The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back: Until We’re Tested, We All Seem Strong

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2012 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

oqpcf3sTwo camels, Tom and Bill, walked side by side heading for what they assumed would be a feast. Their masters were always partying. A wedding here, a funeral there, it didn’t matter to these beasts of burden. They always had to carry whatever was needed, and at the end of the trip they too feasted – on straw.

Their backs, already laden with heavy gifts and wine, had to bear food as well. Huge sacks dangled on each side, flung between their double-humps and joined by a tie.  Straw lay in the bottoms to protect clay jugs and hold them upright. It encircled the cargo, stuffed into crevices, and bulged the sacks at odd angles.

“Hey,” Tom said to Bill as they lumbered along. “You know ‘ol Henry?”

“Sure. I know him. Shame what happened.”

“I blame his parents. They didn’t raise him right.”

Bill shook his head. “Nah, he hasn’t been coming to church. I mean, when he showed up  I could always tell there was something wrong with him.”

It was quiet for a few more minutes. Each tried to solve the puzzle of why ‘ol Henry had a broken back.

“Ok, I get it. Clearly his wife is difficult. You never know what goes on behind closed doors!”

“Regardless, he isn’t who we thought!”

The ignorant gossips, neither of which had asked ‘ol Henry why his back broke, slowly maneuvered their way through the crowd. One party-goer, no one knows who, decided he didn’t want to carry his gift any farther. Seeing an opportunity in the passing camels, he topped one bag with a teetering clay pot.

“Sheeez!” Tom complained as his back bowed. “I can only carry so much!”

“Quit your griping, it’s not that hard!” his insensitive companion bellowed. “Breathe easier. You should exercise more.”

Groaning, Tom wobbled a little. “Hey, will you let me lean on you the rest of the way?” He looked to Bill, pleading.

“You’re a pansy. Just repeat, ‘I’m a good camel.’ If you believe in yourself, you can do anything! Now c’mon. You’re slowing us down.”

As Bill was chiding, he kept his distance from Tom. The party-goer stacked straw around the clay treasure he’d added to Tom’s bag. Tom began to lose his footing. One straw fell out of the man’s hand and he leaned down to pick it up. Laughing and joking with surrounding merry-makers, he tossed the lone straw onto Tom’s sack.

There was a popping sound, then a loud crack as if a large tree branch was torn from its trunk. Sudden cries of anguish and fear faded into a low moan as Tom lay crumpled on the ground.

“I guess he was weak,” someone muttered.

No one considered the weight of Tom’s burden. 

“Yeah, you never know what you’re really getting into with these camels. Until they’re tested, they all seem strong.”

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 12:16

“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!”

**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*pics from Kozzi.com 

Is Laughter the Best Medicine for America’s National Mood Disorder? Part 3

 

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

Racism. It’s a word we all know but which has different meanings depending who is asked. 

Across the nation, in loud and undeniable terms, racism is seen as hatred. There are other words equally aligned with hate: homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and more. My question today is not whether these issues are matters of hate, but rather why do we associate them with hate? 

The surface answer is obvious. By excluding persons based on one characteristic, we are judging and condemning them. That’s certainly not nice, and more often than not is hatred.  I’ve heard people try to rationalize their prejudiced remarks by suggesting they do not hate, they only do not like those they denigrated. 

So what is the difference? If I do not like a fried egg, I will not eat it. If I hate fried eggs, I will tell people how horrible they are,  and use body language such as recoiling when I see one. In the extreme, I could say all eggs are horrible because some of them could be fried. 

Dislike, as unfair as it can be, allows freedom for people of all isms and beliefs. It leaves a little wiggle room for learning and growth.  It becomes hate if I think or suggest “those people” who do not agree with me ought to be gone, silenced, or stay on their side of town.

If I want to remove freedoms from persons or people groups based on their skin color, religion, sexuality, gender, age, or beauty, I am hating. Like love, hate is action.  Covert, thinly veiled discrimination is as much hate as overt violence and abuse. 

What does all this talk about racism have to do with laughter?

We raised bees when I was a kid, and there is nothing sweeter on the tongue than honeycomb. Kind words are like that. The power of kindness can heal a nation. “Gracious words are a honeycomb,  sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” (Proverbs 16:24)
 “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” ( Proverbs 15:1) 
Wow, is that all over the headlines, or what? We know the anguish words can cause.  One practical way to heal our land is to enjoy a good laugh with (not at) each other.  People are funny!  
Instead of people-watching and poking fun or misery, how about people-greeting?  Almost everyone has a sense of humor discovered when we drop the walls and talk.  Instead of sitting at work, in church, in school, or on social media and griping, walk over (or tweet over) to someone who is different from you and greet them. 
We have more in common than not. There is much to bring us to a good laugh. Laughter is the best medicine when it comes from a hearty welcoming spirit.  
Today’s Helpful Word

Ephesians 4:29

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

 

 

**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*crowd pic from pexels.com; man pic by BARUNPATRO on rgbstock.com

Is Laughter the Best Medicine for America’s National Mood Disorder? Part 2

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

A national leader, buffeted by war and assassination attempts against his life, once wrote poetry and songs as a means of dealing with his emotions.  He was a war hero who struggled with depression. Responsibility for his country weighed heavy on his mind while he prayed. 

He was a king who did not come from royal blood. His family broke apart in explosive and tragic ways.  First, his father-in-law, king before him, hunted him down for years out of jealous rage. HIs first wife mocked him and left. He lost three sons, one to stillbirth and the others murdered.

Two of his sons tried to overthrow their father’s kingdom. Another son raped his own sister. It is no exaggeration calling this preeminent family majorly dysfunctional.

Here is a clue to the trouble. About the second son who tried to overthrow the king, it is written, “Now his father, King David, had never disciplined him at any time, even by asking, ‘Why are you doing that?’ “

Yes, it was David, King of Israel in roughly 970 to 930 BC, who reigned well in public and terribly at home.  

King David’s grief and plea for mercy

Some of his songs are filled with grief over his crime and failures. For example, one follows his adultery and murder of his lover’s innocent husband.* 

Have mercy on me, O God,
    because of your unfailing love…
For I recognize my rebellion;
    it haunts me day and night…
  Create in me a clean heart, O God.
    Renew a loyal spirit within me…
 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves…

Sometimes it is easy to sit back in our armchairs or at our computer screens judging leaders who seem to have two faces. King David was flawed, yet he never stopped seeking God. I know religious people who have miserably failed at parenting, marriage, or leadership. I am divorced, and certainly imperfect, yet my heart is after God. 

 How God views our personal failings

God does not look at us like we see each other. I see positive and negative behaviors in myself, family members, friends, strangers, and national leaders. He sees our hearts. When our desire is for God, he knows it.

That is why we can laugh. No, what happened to David’s family is not funny. Harm brought to any of us through family dysfunction is not amusing. National and global crises are no joke. Tragedy is not fodder for entertainment. 

Laughter can come from a place of peace when we know the ultimate judge (Jesus) sees us as forgivable. He does not enable or endorse our sins, however will respond to sincere hearts who break over them. We have a chance (not a loophole making sin ok), for the repurchase of our soul that we sold to the highest bidder.  

Laughter follows mourning

King David’s song continues:

then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness…
 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
    You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God…

Our country needs to laugh. Here’s the thing – we need to mourn first. Charlottesville, human trafficking, racism, sexism, stigmas, hate toward anyone who is different or who does not agree with our pet ideas, national infighting, infidelity in marriage, abuse in the home, and so much more, are national and personal sins for which we need to repent. 

It is clear we fail each other and God. Fallout from our poor and unkind decisions can be great. Painful consequences will occur. Even at our best we fall short of perfect love, absolute unselfishness, and wisdom. 

Let us allow difficulty to bring us to our knees in prayer. God will answer us. King David was not always a great man, and his family and nation suffered. In the end, he consistently pursued God. HIs life is an example of divine mercy and answered prayer. His honest and revealing songs and poems became part of one of the most read and quoted books in history, the Book of Psalms. 

Each of us can choose, regardless of pain and worry, to surrender to Jesus Christ, and laugh with joy in his love. 

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 16:11

“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.”

 

**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*Psalm 51

*earth pic by NAZRETH on rgbstock.com; crowd from kozzi.com

Is Laughter the Best Medicine for America’s National Mood Disorder? Part 1

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

War and rumors of war.  This is a heavy news day for America, and tensions are high.  Even if conversations are not concentrated on the Eastern and Middle Eastern dramas,  we feel the apprehension.

Jimmy Kimmel spoke about the day his newborn faced open-heart surgery. Jimmy’s cousins brought laughter to the moment, however this did not lessen the new dad’s and mom’s  concerns for their son.  

Laughter as  effective therapy

Most of us can experience apprehension and function at the same time. For some, a little tension can set off disabling anxiety, depression, or other mental illness episodes.  Stress is a huge factor in unstable mental health. 

That is probably why laughter is a great coping mechanism. Everyone knows it is possible to cry through laughter and smile through tears.  Levity does not fix anything other than our ability to move along. That is what counts, is it not? 

In the arena of mental health care and advocacy, the aim is to help persons advance from dysfunction to function to satisfaction. Laughter’s role is significant.

It was interesting to watch as suicidal and severely depressed persons like myself  found reasons to laugh together in an intensive therapy support group in 2011. Personally, an instant change in mood was not forthcoming (overcoming a mental health crisis does not work that way!).  However, we each experienced proof of that joy is possible. Laughter, if accepted as such, is a catalyst for hope.

America’s hope

America is not in a great mood today. Many are angry, bitter, vile, and hateful. This comes from both conservatives and liberals if we will be completely honest and admit it. Comic relief from people like Jimmy Kimmel is a break from fake and bad news.  It is not a cure for anxiety, depression, or despair.  

Our best laughter comes from a sense of security and freedom from fear knowing absolutely nothing can destroy us. 

My hope is not in America’s President or any world leader. It is not in Republicans or Democrats, conservative or liberal ideology, or in any governing body whatsoever. 

My hope is in the One who never changes, whose love is passionate for His daughter, and whose plans stand firm forever. The Lord “watches over those who fear (revere and live in awe of) him,  those who rely (place all their hope) on his unfailing love.”  The best read perhaps for America’s national anxiety is Psalm 33.

God’s promises help me respond to apprehension like a woman described in Proverbs 31. “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” While anxiety and depression often knock on my door, it is hope that brings me laughter, and the other way around.  

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 17:22  

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”

 

**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*fear pic from Kozzi.com, woman smiling by COLONIERA on rgbstock.com

 

Wisdom from a Wheelchair

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

I am in a wheelchair temporarily due to a foot injury.  This confinement has unique challenges.  Blood circulation cuts off at the edge of the seat. It is easy to go too fast down inclines. From steps to doorsills to sinks, homes are built for people on two feet. Grabbers are essential, yet finding low storage for necessary items is too!

Because my foot will heal in a few weeks, this experience is void of the emotional trauma that must accompany learning one’s legs will never work. However, to a lesser degree I can relate to the financial, social, and physical limitations of life in a wheelchair.

Our Challenge: Be Braver than Most   

Relatability, or rather lack of it, is one reason people stay away from those who struggle with mental disorders.  Jesus is our example of love and acceptance no matter the circumstances.   

As we read in the gospels, he met with those on the outskirts – people society had deemed unnecessary and a waste of skin. He talked with the fearful, faced head-on the demon-posessed, touched the unwanted, and loved them. 

I heard a pastor express from the platform his relief when emotionally unstable people do not call him. Another minister completely ignored a suicidal church member. Someone close recently told me she does not like people with mental illness.  That hurt.

What these responses mean is that potential supports do not know what to do.  As humans, we fear the unknown. Our comfort is important to us. The bravest among us face those fears and refuse to balk. 

People are generally not proactive. In churches especially this is a problem because God’s house is where hurting souls will often look for answers. We are to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.  Yet too often we make the excuse, “They’ll call me if they need me.” Isolation adds to the suffering of those in emotional pain.

How to Be Braver than Most

Following the example of Jesus is not our idea of comfortable.  “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges… was born as a human being,” and lived and died in service to God and people.* 

If you want to live as Jesus did, your number of choices shrinks. Loving your neighbor as you love yourself is not optional.   

This blog and entire website teaches practical ways to do that without losing sight of who you are and growing overwhelmed. You can know how to relate and react when someone near you struggles with mental illness.  You do not have to be afraid. You can be an effective support while maintaining your own peace of mind.

Jesus sat in our wheelchairs so to speak, experiencing human limitations.  He reacted with love-in-action, and still does.      

Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 3:18

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

 

**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*From Philippians 2

*wheelchair pic by BETACAM on rgbstock.com; women pic from kozzi.com

We are an Optimistic People – Look Beneath Your Depression and Uncover the Truth

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

Surprise! It’s true.

If one of your life’s battles is depression, like it is for me,  I know you are an optimistic person.  Those on the outside of our struggle use terms like negative and scary to describe our mindset.  That’s ok, they do not see.  

Do you?

According to the Cambridge online dictionary, optimistic means “hoping or believing that good things will happen in the future.”  How can this term describe us in the middle of a major depressive episode?  What relevance has optimism to our recurring mood disorder? 

Optimism is not dependent upon whether we succeed at reaching positive feelings.  In total absence of hope, we are in despair. Yet even then we can cling to the hope someone else has for us. I remember hoping for hope during some of the worst weeks of my life. That is by definition, optimism!

Depressed is how you feel.  It is not WHO you are

I know you are optimistic because…you are reading this and maybe other sources of encouragement and information hoping to discover something different from typical rhetoric about keeping your chin up. You know you need more – a reason, a rescue, a reminder – whatever it is, you are looking for it. 

I know you are optimistic because…I too have walked that mile to the shower and the second mile to a pile of clothes, searched for the least wrinkled ones and lifted those weighty garments over my head with arms made of rusty iron, when all I wanted, what I thought I needed and should do, was lay back down under the covers and disappear. You dress because you know or want to believe it matters.

I know you are optimistic because…you run sprints in your mind and use every effort to slow down. You are a bouncer in-the-making, as day and night you try to throw out painful thoughts and memories that bring anguish to your soul. You believe peace of mind exists and work hard to snatch it for yourself.   

I know you are optimistic because…you are still here.  You are not dead. Your hope has perhaps faded and may not look like light anymore. Possibly it seems a mere shadow, stalking and teasing you, trying to trick you into believing it is real.  Yet doubts hidden deep linger, causing you to hesitate, choosing once again to stay alive.

I know you are optimistic because…you wanted so much more out of life, and your entire being is disappointed. This is because you sense there could have, should have, been more!  And you are right! There is more!

I know you are optimistic because…you recognize happiness exists. in your perception, maybe “more” and “better” are for other people.  You wish you were happy as everyone else around you seems.  Still,  people like you and me have come through to the other side. Evidence proves it is possible.

I know you are optimistic because…you listen to survivors of trauma and abuse as they talk about the joy and meaning they find in helping other people.  A great camp of survivors of suicidal thoughts and attempts surround you with a united song – it’s not over, there is hope, darkness is not all there is.

I know you are optimistic because…you are reaching out for treatment or thinking about it. Mental health professionals have devoted their education, careers, and daily lives to helping. They find satisfaction in watching thousands of clients go from despair to experiencing full lives.  You can be one of those success stories, and at some level, you know it!

Depression is how we feel, it does not define who we are. You are an optimist with a fighter spirit. Look in the mirror and say “I am worth it. I will survive. I will find joy.”

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 43:5

“Why, my soul, are you downcast?  Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,  for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God.”

**********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*sky pic by JOHNNYBERG on rgbstock.com; girl pic from kozzi.com

Feeling Trapped? Don’t Run Into The Barn

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c)2014, 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

photo-24889599-back-to-the-barn-7A horse will stay in one place if the rider loosely wraps the lead rope around a post. The muscular animal could easily wander off if so inclined, yet the visual suggestion of a tie is enough to keep it in place. This is the same animal that will run back into a burning barn for safety. 

What could horses be thinking? Surely, we would never make those decisions. We know when we are free; we understand to run from fire.

Right?

Sean* feels trapped. His financial problems have recently escalated because loan payments into the tens of thousands on a defunct business will soon be due. His car is unreliable, his employer cut his hours, and Sean sees his dreams slipping away. He grows increasingly depressed. As he looks at surrounding circumstances he feels frozen, paralyzed by fear. Decisions are tough to make. 

Cindy* is dying on the inside. The all-pervasive, daily emotional pain which has become her reality is more difficult to combat lately. She senses her will wavering and wonders how long she can last in her abusive marriage. Everything is crumbled at her feet – hopes for a loving relationship, belief in herself, even her attempts at self-medication create more harm. She would like to leave, but how? Where would she go? Doubts win the battle again, and she resolves to be the perfect wife.

We are very good at acting like horses when we run to perceived comfort and familiarity. It is hard to challenge our brains, especially under great stress, to search for better answers. I think sometimes we forget we are free to choose differently.

Someone once said to me, “You are free.” And another time, “You are in charge.” Those statements were foreign and slow to digest. More recently, fresh questions make more sense. Am I actually stuck here or do I have options?  

Old-familiar does not own Sean, Cindy, or me.  You are not trapped either.  Comfort zones of our choosing are only powerful to hold us back if we allow them.

Sometimes we need helpful advice – we can ask. Some days we need support – we can reach out for and accept it. Some weeks, months, and years the answer seems to come too slowly – we have control over taking the next step, and the next, and the next.

Eventually we will look back and shake our heads in wonder, amazed at how far we have come. There will be no rope wrapped around a post, the barn will be gone, and we will be free to enjoy the freedom that belonged to us all along.

Today’s Helpful Word

Psalm 119:114

You [Lord] are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in Your word.”

 

 **********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*names have been changed

 

 

 

Grief Mimics a Mimic Octopus (Just Ask Prince Harry)

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

Grief is a strange animal.  We have an idea what it looks like, yet when it comes around it morphs into something indescribable.

It is often rude, appearing at awkward and unexpected times, demanding our immediate attention. Or, as in Prince Harry’s experience, it gives us the silent treatment, disallowing any recognition and repair of the hidden damage it causes.

In an HBO documentary, Princes Harry and William talk about their mom, Princess Diana. Since her death in 1997, Harry, who was 12 at the time, has grieved very little. He acknowledges he has to face it and let it out. 

It may surprise you as it did me, to learn that Diana’s sons had not sat down and talked deeply about her with each other until the making of the documentary. How strange, we may think. Yet no two people’s grief looks the same. It is often camouflaged and evasive like a mimic octopus.  Conversation helps.

Grief over my mother’s death in 2002 was slow, and different from anything I thought it might be. I cried a little, then dreamed about her almost every night for four years. Grieving began twelve years later after the past had been fully discussed with my aunt, therapists, and God. By facing the whole truth of our mother-daughter relationship,  freedom to mourn evolved. I wish my brother was not estranged so we could discuss things too.

In contrast, grief came quicker when my dad passed away at Christmas 2015, probably because conversations about him were simultaneous with those of my mom.  I saw my brother for likely the last time at dad’s funeral; there have been no gripping emotions as of yet. On the other hand, two valued supports disappeared from my life in the last year, bringing on a deeper, more immediate sorrow.  

In each case, grieving brought (and is bringing) healing. Oh yes, sadness and sentimentality still exist. It is in freedom from chains to the past that I find peace.  It is also hugely comforting to know my parents are with Jesus, the Redeemer who salvaged their suffering and changed it to pure joy in his eternal presence.

Grief. Good grief! It is a strange animal, showing up in its own way and time. 

Today’s Helpful Word

God’s promise about eternity for those who accept Jesus as Savior and Lord – Revelation 21:4

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”                

 **********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

shadow picture by MIMWICKET, hymn picture by BA1969, both from rgbstock.com

 

How to Survive Your Unwanted and Painful Negative Self-talk

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2014, 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

photo-24787734-closed-eye-pretty-woman

Our inner bully is one of the cruelest voices we hear. There are unkind people who will reinforce what it is saying. It is our choice not to listen to negativity. 

“If you are going to talk to me that way, I’m not speaking to you anymore!” I said.

My foe had recently started the conversation. “You are so annoying. No wonder people do not want you around. You don’t fit in anywhere because you are so weird.”

This time I stood my ground. “There have been friends throughout my life who enjoyed spending time with me. I like being unique and there are those who appreciate who I am.”

“I doubt if that is true,” said the verbal abuser. “I could name names right now of those who reject you. Including me.”

“I can name those who have not,” I said.

That is when I shut down the dialogue with myself.

Sound familiar? Negative self-talk is a primary fuel for false self-defeating beliefs, and depression.

How your negative self-talk started

Beliefs form when we receive a message from a significant source. This could be from parents, teachers, or even the media sending a broader message to society.  Any source we consider valuable and do not dismiss offhand can plant a seed of belief in our minds.

For it to become a solid truth to us, experience has to support the message. For example, if the seed was that you deserve bad things to happen to you, and something bad does happen, that event can be interpreted as evidence backing the initial message.

However, the necessary third component in formulating a belief is that we have to repeat the same message to ourselves. So you see, our self-talk is powerfully influential.

How to survive (and change) negative self-talk. 

  1. Question past messengers’ credibility. If the person sending negative ideas was a narcissist, a liar, had ulterior motives, was emotionally unable to meet your needs, or was well-meaning but ignorant, what effect does that have on their message or on our memories? What if they were wrong? That changes everything, doesn’t it?
  2. Look for evidence to the contrary and do not dismiss it. You believe you are incapable? Count all your accomplishments, big or small. No matter if you judge these as unworthy, they do prove you are capable. Take that in.
  3. Let go of the past.  While it is unfortunate any one of us has been hurt, you do have a say in how long you allow that pain to define you. Forgiveness starts with burying self-blame and allowing yourself to be human.  Then forgiveness of others will be possible. 

Success!

Negative self-talk used to be my constant. Despite my faith in a loving God, friendships, two great sons, and more, the inner voice doggedly told me I was worthless and unlovable. Because of strategies and hard work, eventually those automatic negative thoughts gave way to automatic denial of their truth. They still come around, however do not hold the power they once had. 

You can survive the inner bully and overcome. You can!

Check out How to Gain and Maintain a Mindset of Hope for practical strategies that worked (still do!) for me.

Today’s Helpful Word

Romans 3:22-24

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.  For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.  Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight.  He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”

 **********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

picture from qualitystockphotos.com

 

 

To Everything There is a Season: Time for Healing is Today

Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries  

Ancient King Solomon’s famous poem has reached countless people over thousands of years. It has been sung, most notably by The Byrds in 1965, and  their rendition is often called Turn! Turn! Turn! (The actual title is To Everything There is a Season).  

One can see why Solomon’s provocative words would affect varying generations and societies differently. Straight out of the Bible in the book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, the poem has been the subject of many sermons and philosophical debates.

There is a time for everything,

a time for war and a time for peace.

 When we struggle with an episode of anxiety or other mental disorder, one trigger is often a sense that we have no control over the world and circumstances that affect us. We grasp at what we can to explain our pain and find relief.  

Life is easier (we think) when it can be measured and defined. I wasted decades fretting over external events and the behaviors of others, trying to design what was best. Solomon’s poem, therapy, and a teachable spirit are opening up for me more peaceful options. 

  1. I’m not in control and that’s awesome. Yes, the burden of false guilt for not fixing everything for everyone or making others change is not mine to own. Helping others is a choice, however trying to force the response I want just tears me apart. 
  2. I do not have to remain a victim. Management of my depressive disorder is my job. It does not rule over me. I am responsible for creating safe boundaries, and declaring and living by them.
  3. I can control who I am.  What kind of person do I want to be? The steps I take today toward becoming that person are my choice alone.
  4. Perfection is fantasy.  Allowing humanness to be my natural self and acknowledging the same for other people, erases a sense of personal offense and blame.  

King Solomon throughout his book affirms the limitations of our wisdom.  As one who searched the world for deep answers, his conclusion was that contentment comes with our decision to trust God’s sovereignty, and appreciate what we have in the moment. He said, “when all has been heard,” the key to happiness is in surrender to God and obedience to his commands.  

We have no real control and God has it all. If we trust that he is always good, then relaxing in his arms while the seasons pass by is comforting indeed. 

Today’s Helpful Word

2 Corinthians 6:2 

“As God’s partners, we beg you not to accept this marvelous gift of God’s kindness and then ignore it.  For God says, ‘At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.’

Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.”

 **********COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.